NIGERIAN MIGRANTS KILLED IN GAMBIA

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The victims of the brutal regime need justice

The recent revelation that some Nigerians and other African migrants were murdered on the orders of former President of The Gambia, Mr Yahaya Jammeh should compel an intervention from our country. It is particularly appalling that the federal government has not reacted to this sad and tragic episode since the news broke. That speaks volume of our attitude to human lives as a country. No responsible government will learn of the brutal killings of scores of its citizens and keep silent.

On the last day of hearings before The Gambia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one Staff Sergeant Omar Jallow revealed how Jammeh ordered the execution of no fewer than 48 migrants, whom he said the ex-president described as “mercenaries” sent to topple him in 2005. They were taken to a firing range where the commanding officer, Lieutenant Solo Bojang, instructed soldiers to execute them on the orders of Jammeh. “Solo said these people were mercenaries and he told us that the order from the former head of state (Yahaya Jammeh) was to fire at them,” Jallow had said, disclosing that after the execution, their bodies were thrown into a well.

This action of Jammeh was a callous expression of man’s inhumanity to man as it exposed the former president of the tiny West African country as a mindless and blood thirsty hound. From the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came shocking revelations of his cruelty and how he wasted innocent lives, including those of his own countrymen, just to perpetuate himself in power. The only responsibility we owe those victims is justice, and the relevant authorities in Nigeria and other affected West Africans countries must champion this cause. Besides, the killing of the migrants might only be a tip of the iceberg on the crimes perpetrated by the former Gambian leader who was disgraced out of office in 2016 and forced into exile over his attempt to hang on to power after he was trounced at the election by the incumbent President Adama Barrow.

The pertinent question here is: Were officials of the Nigerian embassy in The Gambia aware of this tragic development at the time and if they were, what did they do about it? The federal government needs to sit up to address the growing concerns of our citizens within the ECOWAS countries who are being treated poorly. Given our investment within the subregion, the welfare of Nigerians living in these countries should be of concern to the authorities. It is equally important that Nigerian embassies across the world be more proactive on matters affecting nationals whenever they are in distress. That is why we have consular representation in these countries.

Meanwhile, the “end justifies the means” approach to politics provided the incentive and motivation for Jammeh to believe that all was fair and acceptable in electoral politics including cold-blooded murder of his opponents. The sad irony of all the killings is that up to date the authorities in The Gambia are yet to bring charges against the former dictator. We therefore challenge the federal government to ensure that this matter does not end with The Gambia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This was a pure crime against humanity which must not just be taken up with The Gambian government but also be vigorously pursued to the International Criminal Court (ICC) until the culprit is brought to justice.

The world will be a better place when people like Jammeh are made to face the wrath of the law and accordingly punished for their crimes against humanity. Jammeh must account for the blood of our nationals he shed in a most brutal manner. That is a challenge for the Nigerian authorities.